We begin in Quito with visits to the splendid churches and plazas of the colonial quarter; the city's best museum with fine displays of archaeological finds, gold artifacts and artwork; and the gallery of Guayasamin whose thought-provoking artwork is considered to be the best in the country. Next stop Otavalo for handicraft shopping at the colourful Indian market famed throughout Latin America; overnight at a majestic 17th century hacienda estate; and a visit to learn about local culture in an indigenous village. Finally to Cuenca, widely-considered to be Ecuador's most picturesque city, for a tour of the colonial center, excursion to the Inca ruins of Ingapirca, and a chance to try your hand at ceramics.
Day 1: Arrival Quito. Our driver will meet you in airport arrivals and transport you to the majestic Hotel Patio Andaluz in the historic old town district of Quito. Patio Andaluz is an exquisitely-renovated colonial house with centuries of history, located just 1 block from the central plaza of Quito that was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1978. Free time to relax and acclimatise to your new surroundings. Includes: (B).
Day 2: Quito city tour. A full day to acquaint yourselves with the best sites of the city of Quito. In the morning a tour of the beautiful colonial plazas and churches as well as panoramic city views atop the Panecillo. After lunch time to explore the excellent Museo del Banco Central, generally considered to have the best archaeological exhibits in the country and an excellent introduction to the various cultures that have existed here before us. Overnight at Patio Andaluz. Includes: (B).
Day 3: Otavalo market and hacienda. Transfer north of Quito to visit the Indian market at Otavalo, famous across the Americas for it's fine handicrafts and colourful locals. In the afternoon and evening there is free time to explore the beautiful grounds of Hacienda Cusin - a charming 17th century estate steeped in history and tradition where you can enjoy a peaceful overnight stay. Includes: (B).
Day 4: Indigenous villages, Otavalo - a fascinating day visiting some of the small Indian villages surrounding Otavalo. During the trip you will see locals making handicrafts, playing Andean musical instruments, and weaving traditional shawls. You will also visit the beautiful volcanic lake of Cuicocha, and the Peguche Waterfall, a sacred site where the locals take their energizing ritual baths during the festival of the sun god. Overnight at Patio Andaluz in Quito. Includes: (B).
Day 5: Cuenca city tour, an early morning flight down the Andes to the white-washed buildings and cobbled streets of Cuenca. An introductory tour to the colonial highlights of the city including its handsome plazas and domed churches, followed by a ceramics lesson where you can make your own pots in the local style. Overnight in the decadent and refined Hotel Santa Lucia. Includes: (B).
Day 6: Ingapirca ruins. An unforgettable visit to the most impressive Inca ruins within Ecuador: Ingapirca was built in the 15th century on a strategic hilltop with excellent views over the surrounding countryside. A local guide will explain all about the origin and purpose of the ruins as well as a full lowdown on Inca history in Ecuador. There will be free time in Cuenca in the afternoon to relax or explore some of the cites museums. Overnight at Santa Lucia. Includes: (B).
Day 7: Quito, Capilla del hombre. Return flight to Quito after breakfast. In the afternoon a chance to visit the fascinating Capilla Del Hombre museum which was built by local artist Guayasamin as a tribute to humankind, and the art-work on display depicting the historic suffering and struggle of Latin America's poor indigenous population is extremely moving. Overnight at Patio Andaluz. Includes: (B).
Day 8: Tour end. The trip ends after breakfast. Our driver can transfer you to Quito airport for your return journey home. Includes: (B).
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